Benches build bridge to taking gospel to Native Americans

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Churches in the Northern Kentucky Baptist Association have found a simple yet unique way to take the gospel to Native Americans in Oklahoma.


Churches have made prayer benches inscribed with scripture and delivered them to numerous tribal leaders. Thus far more than 120 benches have been given to tribal leaders, resulting in some tribal leaders coming to faith in Christ.


“When Anglos make something with their own hands it is very personable and meaningful to Native Americans. Headed by Mike Daniels, a member of Piner Baptist Church, our churches worked to build and present a bench to the chiefs of tribes in Oklahoma,” said Jim Woolums, NKBA associational mission strategist. “This is an opportunity to make a gospel presentation to those chiefs because the benches are inscribed with scripture. Some chiefs became Christ followers, and that is a big thing in their family and culture.”


The project began last fall with more than 80 benches built, then Daniels — a retired semi driver — drove them to Oklahoma and presented where they were presented to each chief. Recently Daniels returned from another delivery to Oklahoma, this time taking 46 benches. Woolums said that tribes in other states have heard of this effort and are inquiring about receiving benches.


The idea was the result of churches from the NKBA working with Randy Carruth in the New Orleans area. Carruth, who ministers to Native Americans across the country, connected the NKBA to an Oklahoma pastor, and collectively the idea was developed to build the benches as an outreach tool.


“It’s something that is simple yet profound,” noted Woolums, suggesting that “revival among Native Americans may be a tipping point as a spiritual awakening in our country as a whole.”


“It’s a bridge to share the gospel,” Woolums added. “It has been done successfully so that we have seen a number of tribal leaders come to know Christ. We had one of those leaders at our associational fall meeting a year ago. Who knew that something like this would be such a powerful tool.”


Daniels said it generally takes two days to build a bench — the first to put it together, then the second day to put the inscription, stain it and apply polyurethane.


Woolums said the bench project is one of many ministry efforts for Daniels. “He is involved on chain saw teams, on building teams — he’s a mission machine as a retired guy, always helping out. He’s busier now than ever, always blessing and helping other people.”


Daniels, talking about his retirement three years ago, observed, “The only thing I retired from is driving a semi.”

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